The Range Rover Sport has the bold, boxy look of the iconic Land Rover. Sadly, we don't have any need to go off-road in our daily commutes, but in highway driving, it was one of the most comfortable SUVs we've driven — even for a high-performance model.
Appearance: The Range Rover Sport has been updated slightly for 2010 with a refreshed grille, bumpers and LED lights. Not all is square: The roofline tapers ever so slightly to the back.
Performance: The drive is sedanlike: smooth, stable and comfortable. Except for a slight body lean, the SUV has sports car handling. We loved this supercharged 510-horsepower V-8 when we drove the Jaguar XFR, and that car's hold-onto-your-hat acceleration is the same here (0-to-60 in the 5.9-second range). The bad news: All that power is costly when it comes to fuel economy, which is 12 city and 17 highway. The six-speed automatic, which also has paddles, shifts flawlessly and has three modes: normal, sport and manual. The steering is precise, with great stopping power from the Brembo brakes. But the Range Rover isn't just about horsepower. And even though we didn't get a chance to take it off-road, the potential is there: The ride height is adjustable. Lower it for better highway driving, or keep it high to get the ground clearance for off-roading. Lyra liked the lower ride — it was easy for her to get in and out of the car. In all, this permanent 4-wheel drive is perfect for our flood-prone areas with a 27.5 inch maximum wading depth.
Interior: It's all about the seats in this quiet cabin. The Range Rover Sport had some of the most comfortable ones we've experienced in an SUV. They're deep and plush, have adjustable front armrests, and are covered in perforated premium leather. Both front and rear seats are heated. Our tester had a nice contrast between the ivory seats and ocean blue trim, which keep it bright and airy. When you want to break the silence in the cabin, the Harmon/Kardon Logic 7 surround-sound system is up to the task. Some things we didn't like: no power tailgate. This heavy two-piece door can be difficult for short drivers like Lyra to reach and close. The 7-inch touch screen LCD is too small — especially for the expansive console — and lacks adequate glare protection. Then there's the heated front windshield. It does a nice job defogging the glass, but having to look through the micro lines can be headache inducing.
Our 3 favorites
Cargo: There's a lot of space with the rear seats folded flat.
Wheels: The five-spoke, 20-inchers have a custom look.
Controls: The gauges, buttons and dials for AC and audio are clear and easy to read.
Comfy seats: It's like driving in your La-Z-Boy.
Refined: 510 horsepower never felt so smooth.
Built-in cooler: It's small, but nice for a snack and a couple of cans of sodas.
The bottom line: Drivers like us rarely will need all the Range Rover Sport's off-road capabilities (or the Supercharged's 510 horses), but unlike some SUVs, it has legitimate off-road cred.